Pattison Onestop, the company that owns the screens and announced the program, has already had a similar program in place on its screens in Toronto subway stations for some years. Since 2007, collaborations with the Contact Festival, Nuit Blanche and the Toronto Urban Film Festival on these subway screens have brought art to a reported audience of more than one million commuters daily.
Sharon Switzer, a Toronto artist and curator who curates Art in Transit for the subway screens, will also be curator for Art in Transit for the new malls initiative.
“For me, it offers an opportunity think more nationally because I’ve spent the past six years [on the Toronto subway project] thinking incredibly locally and about what works in the Toronto context,” Switzer says. “So now I can think about reaching a very different audience in a very different context right across the country. It’s a new chance to get art out there nationally in a public way.”
The first mall screens exhibition, currently on until January 27, is “Hard Twist: Greatest Hits,” a condensed virtual version of an annual textile-art show that takes place at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto.
“I like the idea of textile art in malls; it makes sense,” says Switzer. Right now the virtual show features just two artists from the exhibition, Keiley Stewart and Andrea Vander Kooij, but there are plans to feature more in the future.
Future screens projects also include Twitter-inspired illustrations by Australia’s Charles Santoso (Chao), in February, as well as Best of TUFF in late March and early April.
Switzer also says that in the long term, she also hopes to expand Art in Transit to Edmonton transit stations and—in the much longer term—perhaps to Pattison’s screen network in various high-rise buildings.